Monday, August 15, 2011

Highlights of the Season

Here are a few highlights from the desert this season:The rugged beauty of the Desert Mountains is a wonder. These are the Marble Mtns in the Eastern Mojave.Of course finding rare plants is always a highlight. Above is a tiny plant in the Phlox family- Linanthus maculatus, Little San Bernardino Mtns linanthus, rank 1B.2. Each plant is an inch to less than an inch tall. We found several new populations just at the tail end of their blooming and fruiting season. In another two weeks they would have been dried up and gone! We also collected seed to be preserved in a the seed bank at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. This was the first collection of seed ever made of this rare plant! (Photo by Duncan Bell)This little Liveforever, Dudleya abramsii var. affinis is only found in the Northern San Bernardino Mountains and we found the first known population of it on BLM land.
Another highlight has been the animals we've come across. I posted a photo already of the baby bobcat Duncan found. We also found this great desert tortoise sunning himself near his burrow. And I will never forget almost running into two rattlesnakes in combat, check out the video here.Finding a wild saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea, rank 2.2, was exciting because it hadn't been seen in over 20 years and it is at farthest western end of it's range. This is somewhat of a maverick cactus. There are no other saguaros nearby, actually not for 10 miles or more. How did this cactus make it all the way out there and survive?
The native plant flower show at the Maturango Musuem in Ridgecrest was a highlight because we got to collect flowers for the show and help identify ours and others. The flowers were displayed by family and each one was labelled with its name and where it was collected. A great refresher course on desert plants. (Photo by Kathryn Kvapil LaShure) And to close this is my favorite desert plant, Arctomecon merriamii, the rare white bear poppy, rank 2.2. Maybe we shouldn't have favorites but this plant is so beautiful and elusive. I've gone in search of it four times, but only found it twice. This year we found a new population.

There are many more things I could add to this list, but this is a good overview on what you can find out in the wilds of the California deserts-AMAZING!

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